Stay out of Syria

Count me on the side of those opposed to a U.S. air strike on Syria.

You don’t destroy the hornet’s nest by poking it with a stick. As many of us know, there are consequences.

Few will disagree that Syrian President Bashar al-Assad is evil and should be removed.

Sadly, this will require putting “boots on the ground.” The United States is in no position or mood to consider a unilateral effort to do so.

I am no longer shocked by the ineptitude of our president.

I also now question his morality. To right a wrong — the use of chemical weapons — he is prepared to strike blows on Syria causing many deaths and no likely reduction in the oppression of its peoples.

At the same time he is pulling forces out of Afghanistan. Almost certainly, the Taliban will again be able to take control of the country.

In a few years, the thousands of lives lost in the war to gain freedom for its people, may all be a worthless sacrifice.

What is different between oppression in Syria and Afghanistan?

There is little we can do realistically in Syria presently. But we have done much and can do more in Afghanistan, if allowed to.

I ask myself what is driving our president to poke the hornet’s nest. There are many possible answers but none that would make me proud.

Warwick Jones

Anson Street

Charleston

Respected judge

I’ve been a lawyer for 40 years. My practice hasn’t included criminal cases for a very long time. However, I do have some experience with the legal system, and the recent article about Judge Thomas Hughston warrants clarification.

The Post and Courier’s online comments section requires a poster to provide identification. This requirement shouldn’t be waived for comments included in an article that attacks the reputation of a highly respected public figure who, by virtue of his judicial office, isn’t allowed to defend himself.

Yet, the recent article relied upon unidentified sources from “the law enforcement community” who would not speak on the record as well as “Charleston Thug Life” — the self-published rantings of an anonymous blogger.

As the article noted, Judge Hughston sentenced twice as many offenders as two other judges combined, and Judge Hughston doesn’t try criminal cases.

Judge Hughston only sentences offenders who are pleading guilty, and in nearly all of those cases, the sentencing is accompanied by a “plea bargain” which has the approval of the prosecutor and the defense attorney and constitutes a recommendation to the sentencing judge. That plea bargain serves as the incentive for the offender’s guilty plea.

These types of cases have a much higher percentage of probationary sentences than sentences that occur after a trial.

Plea bargains are a necessary component of the criminal justice system, and many cases are disposed of without the expense of trials.

Our current Ninth Circuit Solicitor is well known as a no-nonsense, tough prosecutor. The public need not be concerned about whether its best interests are being protected in any plea arrangement to which her office has assented.

Further, any unlawful sentence by a circuit judge can be appealed by the state.

If the prosecuting authority believes that a sentence is unlawful, she can appeal that sentence.

To the best of my knowledge, zero percent of the sentences meted out by Judge Hughston have been appealed by the state. This is tacit recognition that His Honor is complying fully with the law when he sentences offenders.

In this country, every sentencing judge must consider the very factors that Judge Hughston considers each time he sentences an offender: deterrence, incapacitation, rehabilitation and retribution. This is the law, and those who insist that any of these factors be ignored are advocates for lawlessness.

Judge Hughston has the respect of every lawyer I know — prosecutors, defenders and civil trial lawyers like me. I urge your readers to consider what qualities they would want a judge to have in a case in which they were parties.

Every lawyer I know would assure them that Judge Hughston has those qualities in abundance.

Allan R. Holmes

Attorney At Law

Church Street

Charleston

A natural solution

I am an adoptive parent who had five failed adoptions before successfully adopting my beautiful daughter.

Three of our failed adoptions could have been pursued legally in an attempt to retain those particular babies. I chose not to fight for those children, because I firmly believe that no one has a “right” to another person’s child.

I also believe that no one has a “right” to judge a birth parent as being “not as good a parent” as an adoptive parent. Clearly, the child belongs to the biological parents.

In the case of Baby Veronica, her birth father did not know about her adoption. When he did, he stood up to claim his child.

It seems to me that he has shown that he loves his daughter and that he is loved by his daughter. Baby Veronica is obviously happy, well cared for and healthy, in addition to being loved.

Whether or not the child qualifies for protection as a Native American because of a technicality, she is culturally and genetically Native American. Somewhere, somehow along the way in this case, morality and ethics have been lost.

I wish to implore the Capobiancos to please consider Veronica’s happiness. Put her needs and well-being ahead of yours and let her go. I can imagine — actually, I know — how hard this is, but in the end, you will know you did the right thing.

If you truly love her, it is the only thing. It is time to cut your losses and move on to find the child who will truly be yours.

Gloria Colangelo

Lake Carol Lane

Ridgeville

Lee County landfill

The recent unanimous decision of the South Carolina Supreme Court regarding the Lee County landfill deserved a more thoughtful analysis than that offered by The Post and Courtier editorial and cartoon on Sept. 3 (“Hold your nose on dump ruling”).

The question presented to our Supreme Court was: “Does South Carolina law recognize a cause of action for trespass solely from invisblodors rather than a physical invasion such as dust or water?” The Court’s holding that S.C. law does not consider smells to be a trespass is consistent with both the common law and common sense.

Consider the consequences if our Supreme Court had ruled that one trespasses by allowing a smell to escape his property, as your editorial implies it should have. Under S.C. law (as in most states) “any trespass, however small and insignificant, gives rise to an actionable claim” for trespass.

Further, even in the absence of any actual injury, a plaintiff is entitled to damages for trespass. As a result, had the Supreme Court answered “yes,” then your neighbor would be able to sue you for trespass and collect damages simply because he could smell a steak cooking on your grill.

This would clearly be a ludicrous result. Nevertheless, the neighbors of the Lee Country landfill are not without remedy. Indeed, they prevailed to the tune of over a half a million dollars in federal court on theories of both negligence and nuisance.

The result of our Supreme Court’s recent decision is simply that they cannot also prevail on a trespass theory that would have far-reaching and ludicrous results.

The S. C. Supreme Court rarely issues unanimous opinions. When it does, its opinion is worthy of more than a derisive cartoon and a superficial editorial.

Lane D. Jefferies

JD Candidate 2014

Charleston School of Law

Moultrie Street

Charleston

Give me a break?

I thoroughly enjoyed the Sept. 6 article by Robert Behre titled “Senior tax break a bit of a secret.”

Even before “bucket lists” were invented, I doubted I would ever reach the milestone required to be eligible for the senior tax break, but I did make a note that one of the first things I would do if I ever did turn 85 is rush right out and buy something whereby I could get a whopping one percent off the S.C. state sales tax.

Lo and behold, I made the cut recently (which suggests that only the good die young). Trouble is, I had forgotten about the deal and have no idea where the note is.

But that’s not all bad from the state’s perspective, I guess.

I have been continuing to help fund the Education Improvement Act by untold amounts by unknowingly not claiming my one percent discount on purchases of beer, wine and Scotch, for instance.

But I would like to see a follow-up on the subject with a few more statistics. It would be interesting, for example, to know just how much money we 70,701 “qualifieds” are not paying toward the Education Improvement Act.

I would also like to know what it costs to administer this brilliant tax break considering the expense of making all those signs we don’t see, time lost by trying to get approval on purchases, applying the skills learned to figure out what one percent of the sales tax is, and the costs of the additional bookkeeping burden upon our merchants and upon our employees at the Department of Revenue.

Makes one wonder how much this senior tax break is really worth and how many other similarly huge issues the DOR has on its plate.

I am now on my way out to purchase something.

Maybe later I’ll remember what the point was that I’ve been trying to make, if or when I return.

Richard B. Morgan

Fort Johnson Road

Charleston

A greedy route

I am tired of hearing about I-526. I have a friend who bought property back in 1987 knowing that I-526 would go right though there. Anyone who bought after him would have also known.

So if you know, why would you buy the property and then expect to get money for something that was already coming? Sounds like they are trying to manipulate the government.

Donald Johnson

Old Town Road

Hanahan

Codes of war

I have a rule of thumb for the president and Congress to consider:

If the United States and our allies are attacked, counter- attack immediately and with overwhelming force.

If a rogue nation violates “international norms,” allow the international community to handle it.

Moultrie D. Plowden

Wade Hampton Avenue

Walterboro